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Module: Acquiring Intercultural Competence
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ICP Outcomes


Preparation Courses

An intensive, five-day preparatory course, held late in the Summer Term at Lancaster University, alerts students to a variety of issues likely to confront them during their Period of Residence Abroad (PRA). Advice is given on how to use the PRA to best individual advantage: linguistically, culturally and from the point of view of students' future careers. Following an introduction by a representative from The Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, there are contributions by members of staff from various sectors of the University and from St. Martin's College of Higher Education. The course is taught in a relaxed post-examination atmosphere and all elements are made as enjoyably interactive as possible.

As well as information concerning projects and coursework which students are expected to undertake whilst abroad, detailed advice is offered on personal financial management (including tax and insurance) and students are fully briefed about official procedures and paperwork specific to their country of destination. Particular attention is paid to issues connected with health and accommodation.

Other country-specific sessions provide insights into the relevant foreign lifestyles, with discussions focusing on issues such as dress-codes, personal and professional relationships, sex and drugs. Learners are encouraged in a variety of game-sessions to switch into an intercultural mind set, to recognise difference and to see things through the eyes of the other. Important 'do's' and 'don'ts' are highlighted.   

For intending foreign language assistants, induction courses in TEFL run by professional teacher-trainers are provided, complemented by surveys of the school structures of the host countries. Equivalent slots cater for students attending university or on work placement whilst abroad.

Informal, 'live' sessions led by students who have just returned from abroad give practical hints, supported by personal anecdotes.

Whilst it is recognized that it is impossible in the time available to cover all the contingencies that may arise in students' experience during their period of residence abroad, an attempt is made to sensitize individuals to the variety of cross-cultural challenges, both stressful and exhilarating, that they are likely to meet. In addition to the programmes offered by agencies in host countries following students' arrival, an increasing number of UK universities and colleges run intensive preparation courses prior to periods of residence abroad. These typically take place in the closing stages of the summer term/semester of the second year of a four year BA programme. Courses may be concerned with general preparation or may focus more specifically on EFL teaching skills. In both cases, there is a strong emphasis on the raising of intercultural awareness: through the provision of information and through organised group interaction.

Sessions provided during the course make use of project- developed  materials including quizzes (country-specific Interculture Quizzes and the Identity Quiz), Intercultural Incidents and the SARA and STEFE databases.

Download a copy of the latest Preparatory Course programme as an RTF file (approx 21K).

See also:

NRAD Database at

RAPPORT project at